I’ve been lucky enough to make the acquaintance of this wonderful ceramicist, long before she mastered the art and it’s been such a pleasure to watch her journey unfold. This post features her latest and best work yet, the ‘Corazon Del Sol’ (‘Heart of the Sun’) series.  I’ve been an admirer of her work, but also of her; she’s incredibly talented and an inspired creative but more than that she’s one of the sweetest and sincere people you could ever meet. I’m so honoured that she’s shared her insights about her creative journey so far in this short interview with me. I just adore her passion for her craft and I hope you enjoy this profile piece as much as I have. Without further ado, introducing, Kimberly Cruz the force behind The Potter x The Clay.

Tell us a little bit about your career – how was The Potter x The Clay conceived?

The talented Kimberly Cruz, The Potter x The Clay

It all started when I first held a tiny, handmade, tea bowl and saucer by the NYC ceramicist Shino Takeda. It was the most misshapen and imperfect thing but I found a warmth and a soulfulness to it that really moved me. A year later I enrolled in beginners’ classes at a community centre and I’ve been a pig rolling in mud ever since.

There’s something so intimate, so organic about handmade ceramics that you just cannot replicate with machines. You’re able to capture the heart of the artist’s ‘practice’ and whatever sensitivity they were experiencing on that particular day. I try to involve as much life in my pieces, celebrating every bump, every flaw and every feeling or thought it took to make it.

How long have you been working on your craft?

I’d been taking night classes on and off since the end of 2014. However, it wasn’t until I held my first market stall six months ago that people really started taking notice. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind journey, juggling my full-time job, building a strong yet sincere platform to voice my work, meeting orders, nurturing my craft, and trying to squeeze some much-needed sleep and ice cream in between.

How many collections have you done and what inspired these collections?

So far, a total of four: two planter series, one floral vessel series and one tableware collection. What inspires me? Nature (I’m big on hiking) and memories (albeit painful or wonderful). When conceptualising, I’m drawn back to the two … always the two.

How did you dream up your amazing creations for this latest collection? And what’s it like to collaborate when creating a series?

Fortunately, I’ve always had creative reign across my collaborations and the labels and stores that choose to connect with me are those who are also drawn to my aesthetics. Before the studio jump-off, I first start with a story I’m compelled to tell or a feeling I want to express. I then explore ways to translate that same ‘empathy and energy’ into the clay’s body.

My latest collection came intuitively to me. I was experimenting with gold application and I was also going through a very trying season in my personal life. Using clay, I wanted to define what ‘Hope in the midst of trials’ had meant for me and it instinctively paved the way for the ‘Corazon Del Sol’ (‘Heart of the Sun’) series.

What advice do you have for aspiring ceramicists?

You can find your style when you give meaning/purpose to your work. When we’re unsure of our style, we instinctively echo what everyone else in our community is doing in order to validate our work. I discovered early that things began to make sense when I gave meaning to my art. I can work with the same speckled clay as many other ceramicists do, or use a drippy blue glaze that’s currently in vogue, but my musings and narrative behind it are mine and mine alone. It’s taught me to be bold with my concepts, brave with my feelings and experimental in my approach.

Find your weaknesses and master them. It’s a painful yet beautiful way to grow. When I started, I loved ‘hand-building’. It was so free form and self-expressive. I refused to throw on the wheel and avoided it at every opportunity. Deep down, I knew it was a technical language I needed to broaden my vocabulary. A year later, I enrolled in advanced wheel-thrown classes. I feel like I’m quite basic at it still, but I’ve learnt to make it fit my style. My work wouldn’t be where it is now had I not set goals to refine this vulnerability

Find your tribe. You need like-minded souls who can share in your journey and whose wisdom, trials and successes you can also grow from. I found my tribe in two bad-ass babes killing it in the creative field. Penelope Duke (@penelopeduke), a ceramicist whose minimalist work I’ve admired from the very beginning, taught me how to get my ‘business ducks in a row’ as early as possible. Julie Lee Sy (@little_loom), a talented fibre artist, had shown me the power of community and to step away from the studio when creating turned from joy to burden. Both these tenacious and inspiring women (who are juggling the entente of career/family and creative side-hustles) have been instrumental in getting me through my first few months as a ‘selling’ ceramicist. It would have been a very difficult ride if it were not for their wisdom, mentorship and support.

What are you working on next and when will your online store be ready?

Besides getting through a mountain of orders, I’m gathering inspiration for an exhibition – hopefully at the end of the year – that embodies and exemplifies the beauty and struggles of women. I’m also trying to figure out how I can fit more sleep and ice cream into my very busy schedule (if anyone’s figured that out yet, please reach out and tell a sister).

My online store? Toes and fingers crossed, by the end of May. Until then, if anyone’s curious about certain pieces from my work, please reach out to me on my insta  or webby!

So there you have it. My first profile interview on such a fabulous creative. Whilst I’m not a ceramicist, I take so much inspiration from Kimmy’s general ethos and work ethic. To follow her journey hit her up on instagram: @thepotterxtheclay or website: www.thepotterxtheclay.com